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Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Colorado? 

Posted on January 5, 2024 in

Domestic violence in Colorado is not a criminal offense on its own but rather a sentencing enhancement that increases the penalties of other crimes where the accused and the victim were or are in an intimate relationship. Therefore, determining whether or not domestic violence is a felony charge often depends on several factors, including the underlying crime. A Denver domestic violence defense attorney can explain the process and help you determine what charges you may be facing.

What is Colorado Domestic Violence?

According to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-6-800.3, domestic violence is the act or threat of violence against a person with whom the accused has been or is involved through an intimate relationship. Domestic violence often includes verbal abuse, physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual violence, yelling, or sending the victim threatening messages.

Domestic violence can also include other crimes against another person, property, animal, or municipal ordinance when a source of control, coercion, revenge, intimidation, or punishment is directed against the victim when the accused has been or is involved in an intimate relationship.

Since this definition is rather broad, a charge can be brought against many different individuals, including someone with whom the defendant has biological children, even if no dating relationship ever existed. An intimate relationship can also be defined as any relationship between former spouses, spouses, and current or past unmarried couples.

Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor or a Felony Charge?

In most cases, a domestic violence crime is charged as a misdemeanor. However, this charge can be increased to a felony if any of the following circumstances occur:

  • The victim suffered from serious bodily injury
  • Sexual assault or physical harm occurred to a minor
  • The victim suffered a sexual assault
  • The accused has a previous conviction of domestic violence or another crime

Misdemeanor or Felony Charges

The following domestic violence-related crimes are generally charged as a misdemeanor in Colorado:

  • Child abuse, only if the defendant has no prior convictions and there are no injuries sustained to the minor
  • Third-degree assault
  • Harassment
  • Menacing, with no deadly weapons or any representation of a deadly weapon
  • Unlawful sexual contact, where the victim did not face submission of sexual contact
  • False imprisonment, for detainment under 12 hours or if the accused did not use force or threats to keep the victim detained

On the other hand, the following felony crimes may be charged with a domestic violence enhancement in Colorado:

  • Unlawful sexual contact
  • False imprisonment
  • Menacing
  • First-degree assault
  • Second-degree assault
  • Child abuse
  • Stalking

Domestic Violence Situations Require Mandatory Arrest and Charges

Whenever the authorities are called about a domestic violence situation, any allegation or suspicion requires Colorado police to make an arrest. If the officer has probable cause or believes an act of domestic violence occurred, the aggressor must be arrested to prevent the continuance of violence, leading to a more serious level of danger. This also means that alleged domestic violence victims cannot drop charges made against an alleged abuser. The government decides if they will drop or prosecute a domestic violence case.

Colorado Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been accused of domestic violence in Colorado, you must take the charges seriously. The consequences can be severe, including fines, jail time, and loss of firearm privileges, to name a few. Contact Flesch & Beck Law using our secure online form to obtain the skilled legal support you need when you need it most.